“WRONG CHOICE” – Construction Companies Question Giddings’ Nomination

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Several Liberian construction companies have sharply resent President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s appointment of former Deputy Public Works Minister for Administration, now Public Works Minister-designate, Roland Lafayette Giddings for the top job at the works ministry, The aggrieved Liberian construction companies described the recent appointment of Giddings to the public works as a “Wrong Choice,” due to what these Liberian companies termed as his ‘arrogance and biased, shown to Liberian-owned companies over Lebanese and Chinese companies; despite they (Liberian Construction Companies) also having the requisite expertise for the job. Furthermore, stakeholders in the construction and engineering sector of the country also described Giddings recent appointment by President Boakai as returning to “business as usual.” According to critics, Giddings, along with his former boss, former Minister Gyude Moore, as the masterminds behind the awarding of lucrative road contracts to foreign construction firms over Liberian-owned firms as well as the establishment of East International Construction Company,  a Chinese owned company that was established as a hardware store, and later metamorphosed as a construction company. During his role as Deputy Minister for Administration, Giddings, and his boss were said to have seriously influenced the awarding of  a then-whooping US$89.5million road construction contract for the construction of the Robert International Airport and several community roads under the leadership of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,. Despite the then ratification of the contractual agreement by the Legislature, East International could not commence works on the RIA and other community roads due to the company’s inability to secure funding.  According to sources, Giddings is also reportedly, serving as a Consultant to East International currently, under the firm, Imperial Consultancy; hence, critics of the former deputy minister are contending that the nomination of Giddings by President Boakai would amount to a “serious conflict of interest” or the return to the era of “business as usual.” It can be recalled that controversial Rights Advocate, Martin K.N. Kollie, and three Liberian construction companies, MANDE, Westwood, and African Constructions, lobbied against the awarding of such a lucrative road contract to East International; on grounds that the company had no prior work history anywhere in the world, thus leading to former Minister Moore and Giddings supposedly blacklisting these three Liberian construction companies from being awarded road contracts for three years then.  Also, former Margibi County Senator, Oscar Cooper, kicked against the awarding of the RIA and other road works to East International.  Furthermore, employees of the works ministry have contended that former deputy minister Giddings also had a ‘terrible working relationship at the ministry.’ President Joseph Nyumah Boakai in his inaugural message, vowed to kick against corruption and the culture of impunity.  Therefore, critics of former deputy minister Giddings are urging the Liberian leader not to consider the former minister back to the works ministry. Before the ratification of East International contractual agreement by the Legislature, several lawmakers in the 54th Legislature and Liberians contended that the company, which Mr. Giddings is reportedly s consultant, had no prior work history anywhere in world, and that the awarding and amendment of the contractual agreement between East International and the Government of Liberia, amounting to US$101million, was met with stiff resistance. Few months back, appearing before the plenary of the Liberian Senate, outgoing Public Works Minister. Madam Ruth Coker-Collins, informed senators that East International was unable and technically incapable to continue works on the RIA highway, in line with their contract. The outgoing Minister went as far as telling the Senate Committee on Public Works that East International lacks the technical and financial capability to do the road within the 36-months required by the contract and called on the Senate to review the contract.

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